As an online business owner, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends that are shaping the future of eCommerce.
That’s why we’ve compiled together research from some of the latest industry reports to help you decide on the direction of your retail company.
Using online shopping statistics from several recent reports, this article shines a spotlight on five eCommerce trends that are taking centre stage in the online retail world today.
Mobile is now the consumer device of choice
Relevant and engaging content is key to develop customer relationships
The customer experience is more important than ever
Fast, flexible, free and convenient delivery options are on the rise
Parcel tracking is growing in importance
For the first time ever, consumers are shopping on their smartphones more often than on PCs.
Recent research from PwC shows that smartphone shopping was 23% of the population in 2018 and 24% in 2019.
In fact, smartphones have become the go-to technology for online shopping:
- 24% of PwC’s global sample use a mobile phone to shop weekly
- 23% of PwC’s global sample use a PC to shop weekly
- 16% of PwC’s global sample use a tablet to shop weekly
Mobile shopping is becoming more popular partly because it has demolished barriers that can discourage consumer engagement. There are no physical barriers (e.g. checkout lanes or parking lots) and no emotional barriers (e.g. unhelpful store assistants).
Additional research by Episerver has found that a third of online shoppers in the United Kingdom (34%) make smartphone purchases multiple times per week or more often.
If one thing’s for certain, there is a greater need for more streamlined mobile offerings.
For example, 33% of UK online shoppers expect both brands and online retailers to support one-click checkout on mobile.
While PCs have traditionally been the default device for online commerce, as such devices are seen to offer more sensitive and secure transactions, this landscape has since shifted.
That said, research by Global Web Index has found that internet shoppers over the age of 45 still prefer larger screen devices – a major reason that PCs and laptops have maintained their lead in Europe and North America for commerce actions.
The same research also found that in the past year:
- 57% of online shoppers have purchased a product using a mobile device
- 41% of online shoppers have purchased a product using a PC or laptop
- 76% of online shoppers have purchased a product using any device available
With more than three in four UK adults owning a smartphone (KPMG research) it’s clear that mobile is fast becoming the number one sales channel for online retailers.
KPMG also found that 30% of consumers have experienced some problems when shopping online with their phones – there is still a lot to be done to enhance the mobile experience.
Only 17% of small businesses in the UK have a website that works well for mobile (research from PayPal), yet 75% of all online time is now spent on a mobile device.
And, while 9/10 (91%) of small businesses with mobile websites think that they offer a good mobile experience, only 4/10 (40%) of online consumers agree.
On top of this, the same research found that 60% of online consumers feel that they don’t get a good mobile experience, and 47% have abandoned their checkout because the experience was too slow and/or difficult to complete.
More than one fifth (22%) of shoppers say that they prefer mobile shopping to being in-store – a figure that has more than doubled since PayPal’s first research in 2016 (at 9%).
One of the benefits of mobile shopping is that consumers have the freedom to browse and purchase products whenever they want.
- 74% are most likely to shop on their phones while at home
- 16% are most likely to shop on their phones while at work
- 14% are most likely to shop on their phones while on the move
- 34% even shop in bed before going to sleep
Two of the top reasons why consumers prefer to shop on mobile devices are speed and convenience. Around 32% find it quicker to use a smartphone or tablet over other options.
Yet this doesn’t mean that mobile shopping comes without its problems.
Something important to keep in mind is mobile shoppers’ biggest frustrations with online shopping and see if you can do anything to minimise these headaches for your customers.
- 27% say that the screen of their device is too small
- 26% complain that many websites aren’t mobile-friendly
- 24% don’t like remembering login details and passwords
- 18% complain about a slow connection and slow speed
- 17% don’t like having to enter long card or payment details
- 17% complain about having to enter too many personal/contact details
- 12% say they have a poor experience compared with shopping on a desktop
- 10% say they don’t like a complicated checkout process when on mobile
- 9% feel that mobile shopping doesn’t feel safe
- 8% say that there is less availability/range online than in the shop
- Make sure that your website is cross-device compatible
- Test your website on a variety of different devices
- Analyse how many of your customers are coming in through mobile
Did you know that one of the most important roles brands and retailers can play is serving as a source of inspiration and information for their customers?
It may or may not come as a surprise to you, but an overwhelming majority of online shoppers (83%) intend to do something other than make a purchase when visiting a brand’s website for the first time.
Leading with relevant, educational content and experiences allows brands and retailers to build relationships with shoppers and become part of their everyday realities.
What’s more, ineffective content can have major consequences:
Recent research by Episerver found that 98% of online shoppers haven’t completed a purchase due to incorrect or incomplete content on a brand’s website and 25% of consumers say that this factor always stops them from completing purchases.
Relevant and engaging content represents a key differentiator for brands and retailers to earn business; online shoppers appreciate how brands can offer memorable and educational content experiences.
When shopping with brands and online retailers through their websites, 26% of online consumers enjoy a company’s product information the most, compared to just 11% for Amazon.
Such content marketing efforts should not be haphazard or disorganised.
Instead, brands and retailers should aim to approach the discipline with a clear strategy for scaling and delivering experiences that are relevant to:
- The online shopper’s personal needs
- The online shopper’s primary goal on an initial visit
- The online shopper’s position in the buying cycle
As Episerver suggests, it can be beneficial for brands to tailor content to distinct personas.
For instance, more frequent online consumers can be easily swayed away from marketplaces with content that offers personalised product recommendations and lifestyle insights.
On the other hand, less frequent online consumers may appreciate content that streamlines or enhances the objectives that they already have in mind.
This could include:
- Content that demonstrates a product’s diverse use cases
- Unique promotions
- Sales offerings based on the weather in a shopper’s geographical location
Creating relevant and educational content is a great way to develop customer loyalty and build those all-important customer relationships which can lead to an increase in sales.
In fact, according to research by Global Web Index, 15% of internet users say that they want their favourite brands to make them feel connected, cool or trendy. Content creation is one way in which you can achieve this for your customers.
- Check all your content is accurate, up to date and relevant to your customers’ needs
- Complete a content audit on your website and make adjustments
- Execute more market research to improve your user personas and content
Recent research by Adobe suggests that optimising the customer experience is ranked as the most exciting opportunity for online retailers in 2018, 2019 and the years ahead.
The same research also found that focusing on the customer experiences ranks among online retailers as a means of differentiation between competition.
More than a quarter (26%) of survey respondents say that making the customer experience easy, fun and valuable is the primary way in which they will seek to stand out – ahead of customer service (14%) and product/service quality (12%).
Consumers go where they can receive the most seamless and memorable experience – not just the best price or best delivery options.
In fact, according to research by Episerver, companies that invest in and deliver superior experiences to both shoppers and employees are able to charge a premium of as much as 16% for their products and services.
Inspiration, service and content curation are all experience-based areas where brands and retailers can innovate to earn customer loyalty and preference.
What’s more, 73% of all people (research by PwC) point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, yet just 49% say online retailers provide a good customer experience today.
Among US consumers, there’s a noticeable willingness to part with personal data – 63% say they’d share more information with a retailer that offers a great customer experience.
But you won’t have very many chances to get it right:
One in three online shoppers (32%) say that they will walk away from a brand that they love after just one bad experience.
Research by PwC further suggests that there are five key factors that people value most in their customer experiences.
- Friendly service
- Knowledgeable service
- Easy payment
The same research also found that 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience and 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience.
- Consider developing a customer experience management programme
- Brainstorm areas for improvement with sales, marketing and customer service reps
- Execute more market research to identify areas for improvement
Another eCommerce trend to keep an eye on is that fast, flexible, free and convenient delivery options are on the rise.
The good news is that, looking at data from Metapack, 79% of UK consumers are happy to pay more for faster delivery or a more convenient option.
In fact, 79% UK consumers (and 70% global consumers) are prepared to pay extra for a one-hour, same day, next day or Sunday delivery.
What’s more, 58% of global consumers choose to purchase products from one online retailer over another due to more delivery options being provided.
And that’s not all.
Convenience-oriented online shoppers are being tempted to try out new delivery options – 25% UK consumers (44% global) plan to take advantage of collection from a local pick-up point so that they can avoid having to deviate from daily routines or miss delivery slots.
Find out the impact of eCommerce delivery on conversion rates and keep your customers coming back.
Customers want delivery to be free, fast and accurate – free delivery is the most important consideration for 68% UK shoppers when making the majority of their purchases.
In fact, 80% of consumers say free delivery would incentivise them to buy more online during peak sales periods such as holidays (e.g. Black Friday).
What’s more, online shoppers have increasing expectations of free delivery:
- 80% of online consumers say free delivery would incentivise them to buy more online during peak sales periods
- 73% of UK consumers have purchased more products to take advantage of a free delivery option
- 40% of UK shoppers have abandoned their shopping baskets with online retailers because free delivery was not available
Offering multiple delivery choices helps to build customer loyalty.
UK consumers (18%) ranked choice of multiple delivery options and prices their second highest factor after free delivery for the majority of their online purchases.
Fast delivery was only a percentage lower (17%), showing that both speed and flexibility is key for UK consumers.
In fact, speed is now central to securing a great customer experience:
Receiving online purchases as fast as possible exerts a strong appeal for consumers – 26% UK consumers have already taken advantage of a same-day delivery option.
What’s more, according to research from Royal Mail, a whopping 85% of online shoppers would prefer a retailer to offer a range of delivery methods and speeds.
Usage of click and collect has remained stable year on year, with three out of five online shoppers using it regularly and 42% choosing the method due to consumer convenience.
- Measure the median value of your delivery timeframes
- Consider offering multiple delivery methods for your customers
- Use the right technology to locate your items more quickly
Recent research from Royal Mail finds 62% of online consumers think it’s important to receive updates on the progress of their delivery throughout its journey.
- 41% of online shoppers would like delivery confirmation
- 52% of online shoppers would like to know when an item has been despatched
- 58% of online shoppers want to know if there’s been a delivery delay
The same study also found that seven in ten online consumers expect to be able to track an item through a carrier app.
These findings have been replicated in numerous other delivery reports.
For example, according to Metapack, almost 50% of UK consumers like to receive regular email updates so that they can track delivery and 44% of shoppers regularly log into their online accounts to check their order status.
Additionally, phone-based parcel tracking is growing in terms of importance:
Over a third (37%) of UK consumers say receiving SMS and push-based notifications with a hyperlink on their phones is a popular parcel tracking option.
Cross-border parcel tracking is also gaining traction:
Recent research from the International Post Corporation found that online shoppers who were asked for the level of importance of their item being tracked cross-border at six key stages, the responses ranged between 80-89% as very important/rather important.
If you sell overseas, then offering parcel tracking to your international customers is now key to securing those all-important sales and growing your eCommerce business.
- Start offering order tracking to keep up with consumer demand
- Make it easy for customers to view the location of their orders
- Consider making use of mobile notifications to keep customers informed
Take notice of these eCommerce trends
Although these eCommerce trends aren’t talking about anything new, keeping up to date with these online shopping statistics and implementing the right changes in your retail company is key to ensuring a good level of business growth for the year ahead.
If you have any questions or comments related to this article that you would like to make, drop us a message in the section below and one of our team will get back to you.
Looking for inspiration to take your eCommerce business to the next level? Check out these 50 ways to grow your online business – it’s filled with top tips and best practices.